In movies, the turn is immediate, shocking. The victim - and you, the viewer - are left completely blindsided by the change because that is the magic of fiction. The writers control what you see and what you do not. For dramatic effect, they intentionally don't show you the telltale signs that betrayal is imminent. Hiding in the wings, waiting for the cue to strike, completely unbeknownst to the victim.
No, in real life there are always signs. A voice quickly raised when a quiet conversation should have sufficed, a nasty comment that, when mentioned, elicits a laugh.
"Oh, I was just kidding," they say, while your heart smarts at just how un-funny it was. You make excuses for their flare of temper, their harsh words.
"They were just having a bad day. I was being too sensitive..." But deep inside, the part of you that is truth, that is YOU, pokes insistently at your gut.
"Wake up," it whispers.
"Open your eyes," it pleads.
But we turn our faces away.
We don't want to see. We don't want to believe that a person we love, or even just someone we admire, harbors a fatal flaw, a darkness, a Judas heart.
If the damage doesn't come often enough, doesn't cut deep enough, you heal quickly and move on in the meantime. We humans are resilient like that, determined like that, forgetful like that.
Until it comes again. If you care enough, you still look away.
This latest indiscretion isn't indicative of a larger problem! How could it be? Not with someone so wonderful in so many other ways!
"They just had too much to drink. There's a lot of stress at work right now..."
Your stupid, hopeful heart can go on for years like this, wearing barbed wire blinders and blundering into danger, focusing solely on the ever-shrinking positives.
Until the day comes when it cannot be ignored. When the curtain is thrown back and the emperor stands before you, exposed, and you cannot look away any longer.
The day you find yourself being dragged through your living room, clawing blindly above you at the fist holding you by the hair, desperate to escape the Jerry Springer hell-night you are suddenly living.
"This is not my life!" you think, as you run for your car, barefoot and fumbling keys. "What the fuck is happening here?!"
And it's the little voice inside, the one you have shushed for so long that cries out "You knew! You fucking knew all along! Why didn't you LISTEN?"
In the movies, the heel turn really is a surprise. That's how movies are written. But in life, we are given signs.
Watch for them, and if they come, when they come, LISTEN. Because you know the truth.